Chapter 27-4: The Stand

Posted: May 17, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Horror, horror fiction, killing zombies, living dead, monsters, mystery, novels, serial novels, Survival, suspense, thriller, Uncategorized, walking dead, zombie books, Zombies
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

eye-462267_640

~~~

The steady rush of the river, several hundred feet through the woods and off to their left, helped them keep their focus off the evening gloom which quickly invaded the wilderness preserve. The sun ducked below the tree tops on its way into hiding beyond the horizon, understanding all too well that it had no place within the sky above the evil forest which now belonged to the pending dark.

Tony led them silently, single file, deeper into the forest. They needed to get as close as possible to the devil’s den disguised as a waterfall before they lost the light. If Tony’s assumption was correct, and for all their sakes he needed to be, then the eyes which watched the woods would not be looking in their direction, but rather, those eyes would be focused toward the camp where a malevolent machine prepared to entertain the Shadow Dead once the nightly Gathering commenced.

Earlier, when they had reached the ravine on the western side of the preserve, just below the wall of trees fused with the remains of the reanimated dead which lined the top of the ridge, Tony and Meredith had talked for a good while off to the side. Afterwards he’d gathered the others close and told them all about his insane plan…

~~~

…“I don’t believe it’s possible to make it to the camp,” he had told them. “In fact, I don’t believe we’ll make it half-way through the forest before those things kill us.”

His words had been met with shocked expressions.

Tony sighed. “As I said before, these… creatures… are the real problem. And until they’re dealt with first, anything we do to try to avoid them will be fatal. Three of us barely made it out of these woods the last time, three of us out of more than thirty people… and we were the damn lucky ones. I’m not interested in rolling the dice with all of our lives on the slim chance that we might get lucky again.”

“Then why the hell are we here?” a hunter named Michael had asked. “If we can’t even get there, then what’s the point of trying? No offense, Tony, I know Gina means a lot to you, but is she worth all of our lives?”

Tony had nodded. “Michael, your concerns are valid… and I didn’t bring us all the way out here without a plan. After talking with Meredith, who has just blown my mind on what she is capable of, I do believe my plan…our plan… has a chance.” He’d looked to Meredith and finished, “What Meredith and I are about to propose is dangerous and will require all of you to set aside your doubts, no matter how crazy this sounds. I’ll need all of you to believe that this woman can do what she claims. I for one believe her. All I can ask is that you hear us out and then decide for yourselves if you think we’re crazy or not. After, if any of you want to head back, I will completely understand. As I said before, you’ve all done enough, and I won’t ask you to follow me into the madness that’s waiting just up at the top of this ridge and beyond.”

They’d all listened intently.

Tony had continued. “Most of you have heard us tell the stories: Every evening, the murderer who runs this death camp holds a nightly meeting called The Gathering. It’s not important for us to dwell on the horrors which occur at these Gatherings, but what is important is the fact that the Shadow Dead surround the camp to watch and be entertained by the blood that’s spilled to appease them. The fucking machine, Micolad, holds a lottery and selects the names of the latest victims.” He’d taken a deep breath and continued. “It’s my intention to sneak in while these monsters are sitting in attendance outside the camp gates and wait for them to return after the show is over. And that’s when we spring our trap and take out as many of these fuckers as possible.”

Everyone had looked at each other in disbelief.

Tony had raised his hands and looked to Meredith. “I said we needed an edge… an advantage. After talking with Meredith, not only can she provide an advantage, but she can give us a weapon.”

Meredith had stepped forward reluctantly, gave Tony a sheepish smile, and then told them, “I know you don’t know me. Other than Stephen, who has seen what I can do, I don’t expect any of you to understand. Before the outbreak, I made my living as a medium. I was able to commune with those who had gone over to the other side and provided peace to their loved ones.”

This had been met by incredulous stares.

“She’s telling the truth,” Stephen had quickly defended. “You need to listen to what she has to say. This woman saved all of our lives with her ‘gift’ on more than one occasion.”

“Thank you, Stephen,” Meredith had said. She’d looked at the hunters and continued. “Without getting into a long discussion on how or why I can do the things that I can do, I’ll just keep it brief: My ‘ability’ allows me to sense the dead, the ones that now hunt us on this side of life. But more than that, I can draw them to me by reaching out to them on what you might call a ‘psychic’ level. I discovered too late that not only can I sense them, but they can also sense me on this level. And although I had hoped to never open myself up to them again, I understand that Gina needs me now… and so I do this only for her and Frank.” She’d looked to Stephen with an exhausted expression and continued. “Tony has informed me that the freeway is not too far from here. I’ve been carefully monitoring the activity of the dead in and around this area. Oddly enough, I do not sense the Shadow Dead at all, but I can sense a horde of those hideous yellow-eyed monsters moving south along the freeway. They will pass this area if I shut them out of my mind. But if I opened myself up to them, as I’ve done before, they will come for me… they will come here, into these woods.”

All the hunters had looked confused and afraid.

“We’ve all seen several types of the dead by now,” Tony had quickly jumped in. “If we’ve learned anything about them, we’ve learned that the dead do not mix. I don’t understand this any more than I understand Meredith’s ‘gift’. But we do know how deadly those beasts out there on the freeway are. So what Meredith and I are proposing is to sneak in behind the Shadow Dead, lead the yellow-eyed ones in behind us, and then let the monsters fight the monsters.”

“With us standing right in the damn middle of them?” Diane had asked. “Tony, even if she can do what you claim, you’re talking about leading more zombies into these woods… that’s fucking nuts!”

Tony had let out a nervous laugh. “Yes, Diane, it is. But if these monsters attack one another, they’ll be too busy to focus their attention on us. And that is our advantage. Besides, we won’t be standing in the way… we’re going to take control of their den behind the waterfall. If any of those bastards try to make it back, we’ll be there to finish them off. ”

While the hunters had engaged in a heated discussion over Tony’s crazy plan, Stephen stared into Meredith’s downcast eyes. She’s terrified of doing this again, he thought. They have no idea of the toll this will put on her!

“This will work!” Stephen had snapped, interrupting the hunters. “It’s going to put my friend through hell to do this… and none of you can appreciate that fact. But believe me, if Meredith is willing to go through with this, then it must work! I don’t even know why we’re still talking about this, we’re losing daylight and we should get going.”

Meredith had given Stephen a grateful look.

Tony had nodded to him respectfully and then told the hunters, “Stephen’s right. There’s no time for debate. There’s either three of us going into the woods or eight. You all need to decide… now.”

Diane had once again spoken for the rest. “It would appear that being a hero is the same as being insane. If you really believe this will work… well… then we’re in, Tony. But you’re going to owe us… big time.” She’d finished with a smile…

~~~

…They caught a break. The welcome arrival of the full moon illuminated the forest floor below, banishing half the woods into shadow but providing enough light for Tony’s team to navigate toward the river and follow it to the familiar cliff which Tony recognized as the place he’d first looked down upon a pool in front of a large waterfall. As he peeked over the cliff edge, he prayed that he would not see the elusive Shadow Dead moving through that pool as he’d done his first time through the preserve.

He was a nervous wreck as he peered down into the pool, imagining the monsters standing there and staring up at him. What he found instead was a hidden beauty tucked away in such an evil place. The full moon slowly climbed the night time sky directly above the large river, causing the waters off to the right to shimmer like gold as it wound down into the calm pool. The moon’s reflection rippled across the surface of the pool. The waterfall itself was tucked into a shadowy crevice, but its white foamy waters could still be seen in the moonlight. Other than this tranquil scene which seemed ripped right out of a postcard, the area seemed deserted. Hopefully, the monsters were elsewhere and not lying in wait for their meal to come to them deep within the mystery cavern behind the waterfall.

Tony returned to the others and gathered them close. He spoke just loud enough to be heard above the river. “It looks clear. If they’re hiding from us down there, then none of this will matter.”

“That sounds encouraging,” Stephen said.

Tony was shaking his head. “Wait to you see this place. It looks nothing like it did when I first saw it in the daylight. But don’t let its beauty fool you. God only knows what we’ll find on the other side of the waterfall. We’ll have to move quickly across the pool because the moonlight’s going to leave us completely exposed until we reach the darker side near the waterfall. I remember that the water was about waist high on those creatures when they moved through it. Keep your eyes open for an ambush. Once we’re inside, hit your flashlights on and start scanning the area immediately, especially spots where they might be able to conceal themselves.”

“And if we see them?” Diane asked.

“Shoot them quickly,” Meredith interrupted. “Don’t allow the sight of them to paralyze you with fear. From what Tony’s described about their appearance, they sound hideous.”

They all looked to the older woman, surprised by her response.

She gave them an apologetic smile and said, “Sorry. I can’t sense these things at all. Not even this close to their den. It’s starting to make me very… uncomfortable.”

“That’s okay, Meredith.” Tony said. He turned to the rest. “She’s absolutely right. Take them out without hesitation… head shots… and aim like you know how to shoot those guns, people. We don’t want to announce to the whole damn woods that we’re here… not yet… so shoot sparingly. Hopefully firing within that cave and the sound of the falls will help mask our reports. I’m still hoping that the damn place is empty when we get in there.”

“Always the optimist,” Diane said.

Tony smiled. “Someone has to be.” He then glanced at all of them once more and said, “Let’s do this before we all lose our nerve. Remember, move swiftly across the pool, keep watching the banks and get within the closest shadow on the other side. Once we’re all across, we’ll move into the waterfall cave together.”

Everyone quickly prepared themselves for what might be their last few minutes alive, and then they climbed down the cliff and stepped out as one into the moonlight.

When the large pool and waterfall came into view, everyone was awed by the breathtaking sight. How can monsters occupy such a paradise? More than one of them thought.

Tony was the first to enter the pool. He kept his pack and weapons as far above the water as he could as he stepped in up to his waist a quarter of the way across the pool. He turned and said, “Let’s go. It’s fucking cold in here.”

The others followed Tony’s lead and entered the pool, trying to ignore the cold water and feeling like they had just stepped into the Shadow Dead’s extra-large soup bowl.

While the hunters spied the surrounding woods and along the river for an attack that never came, Stephen was focused on Meredith as he helped his friend cross the pool. She wore an expression on her face which placed her a million miles away. Stephen immediately recognized where she was. “Which ones are you trying to find?” he asked her.

Meredith looked to him as if coming out of a trance. “Excuse me?”

“Are you trying to find the dead ones that might be all around us, or the dead ones up near the freeway?”

She gave his supporting arm a squeeze and said, “I’m actually just trying not to think about the fact that I can’t swim,” she said.

“That sucks,” Stephen laughed.

She stared back toward the waterfall and frowned. She hated lying to Stephen, but there were things that he was better off not knowing… and places that she visited which were best left in the nightmares that haunted her waking thoughts.

“Almost there,” Tony encouraged them. They’d made it three-fourths the way across. The waterfall looked dark and foreboding as they approached.

Before they could step any closer, the woods started screaming at them from farther upstream toward the camp, nearly sending everyone into a panic.

“They’ve seen us! They’re coming!” the youngest of the hunters, named Chris, declared. He was about to bolt back across the pool, toward the woods.

Tony stopped him. “Hold still and listen!” he snapped at all of them. “They’re farther away, surrounding the camp. It’s the Gathering… it’s started.” He gave Meredith an urgent look and she returned it with a nod. “Let’s go. We need to get out of the open.”

They all quickly stepped into the shadowy area of the pool, directly before the waterfall.

Diane stared up at what appeared to be an unforgiving rock face with water falling down from above. She turned and nearly shouted, “Are you positive there’s a cave behind this?”

“There has to be,” Tony said.

Meredith moved in next to him. She had to speak up to be heard over the waterfall. “They know I’m here now, Tony… and they’re coming.”

He nodded. “How many?”

Her face looked grave. “Too many.”

Tony stared up at the tall dark waterfall and thought, Monsters ahead of us and monsters behind us. God… please let there be no surprises for us in there… please. He was beginning to feel the weight of the pending shit-storm he’d had a hand in creating and wondered if he’d just made their survival situation ten times worse. Whatever was behind this veil of fast moving water was the only place they had to wait out the storm. If this turned out to be another direction for the monsters to come at them from…

Then we are all dead.

~~~

Next Episode 28-1

Previous Episode 27-3

~~~

If you’re enjoying Don’t Feed The Dark so far, please consider voting for it on Top Web Fiction and Top Site List by clicking the links below. This will help increase its visibility and draw in more potential readers. No registration is required. Thanks for your support and for reading :)

Vote for DFTD at topwebfiction

Vote for DFTD at Top Site List

__________________________________________
“Chapter 27-4: The Stand” Copyright © 2014, 2016 Scott Scherr. From the Novel “Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Three: Recruits”.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission by the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Nash McGowan says:

    Killer entry as always. You have me thinking all over the place. By this point in a story you can usually figure out ow it will play out. Right now, I have no idea at all. Good work man!
    Any chance you will drop these books on Kindle or Amazon for us digital readers.

    Like

    • sscherr says:

      Hey Nash. I’m glad I haven’t become predictable yet… lol. As far as ebooks, that is slowly in the works but low priority at the moment. Problem is, ebook formatting is a lot more complicated than I knew about and I’ve got more than 460,000 words of existing material to re-format to sync with all the different e-readers out there. I either fork out a pretty penny to have it done or purchase programs designed to convert. Again, also not cheap. So for the moment, I consider the online serial novel version to be my ebooks until I’ve got some time to tackle this problem. Sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Zaca says:

    I like Tony’s plan. Damn!

    Like

Comments? I love to read them

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s